Sold! The Best of NYC Auction HousesApril 3, 2017 - by Mari Gold
If you’re in the market for something unique or want to see interesting things, a visit to one of New York’s auction houses is in order. These galleries have free showings before the auction, where you can view what will go under the hammer—especially fun if the goods belonged to a famous person. Some NYC auction houses are very elite, others less so, but either way don’t be intimidated. Auction houses exist to show and sell goods and your money (or eyeballs) are as good as anyone’s. If, as a newbie, you decide to bid, be sure you have seen the item up close and personal. Decide the upper limit of what you’re willing to spend and don’t go over. Don’t fidget—you don’t want to scratch your nose and discover you just bid. Read on for our picks for New York's best auction houses to check out (and maybe bid on) some fine goods.
Art Deco Moonstone and Black Onyx Locket available from Doyle.
Doyle is a tad more low-key than some big league houses. No need to whisper or feel the need sport designer duds here (or anywhere for that matter). Doyle auctions works of art, jewelry and furniture, as well as more off-beat collections like contents of abandoned safe deposit boxes and Hollywood bling. Doyle at Home auctions offer goods to make your pad look right out of a shelter magazine. 175 E. 87th St., doyle.com
Sotheby’s auctions fine art, jewelry, furniture, automobiles, and wine—and other items as well, all high end. Don’t be put off as pre-auction visits are great, as is the site itself, a soaring nine-story glass atrium and galleries designed by museum architect Richard Gluckman (who designed the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, and the permanent collection galleries in the Whitney Museum). Sotheby’s is the world of international auctions writ large with mystique and phoned-in bids (also true at other houses.) 20 Rockefeller Plaza, sothebys.com
Christie’s,, another global auction house, offers roughly 350 auctions annually in over 80 categories, including fine and decorative arts, jewelry, photographs, collectibles, and wine, with prices that range from $200 to over $100 million. It costs nothing to look. There are online auctions but nothing beats being physically present. To start off the experience, the triple-height entranceway has a mural by artist Sol LeWitt. 1334 York Avenue at 72nd Street, christies.com
Dealers have been visiting Roland for four decades, but so do folks who just like "stuff" and enjoy the fun of scoring a bargain. In addition to decorative arts like furniture, jewelry, and silver, Roland has monthly estate auctions with everything under the sun, and specialty shows such as one dealing with Americana coming this May with subset categories including suffragette, abolition, and World War l materials. A past sale of political ephemera had campaign buttons that included some from George Washington’s inauguration. Known as the least pretentious auction house in NYC, Roland is an interesting experience for anyone be they novice, experienced collector, or just looker. 80 E. 11th St., rolandsantiques.com
Hutter Auction Galleries
This signed Derek Jeter jersey was recently sold via Hutter Auction Galleries. Photo: Facebook.
Casual and comfortable, Hutter Auction Galleries deals in fine and decorative antiques, mid-century design, silver, jewelry, rugs, and collectibles. Auctions are usually on Saturdays with viewings the Thursday and Friday prior. Estate sales at Hutter are popular and a great place to scoop up finds. 631 W. 27th St., hutterauctions.com
Swann is the place to hit for works on paper: meaning books, autographs, maps and atlases, photographs, vintage posters, African-American art, and anything else in the category. 104 E. 25th St., swanngalleries.com